I spent my twenties being fairly irresponsible with my finances.
I guess that, ed as the lower earner in a couple, viagra dosage I always felt like I could leave someone else in charge of that part of my life. If I’m honest, budgeting and my finances scared me: council tax, PAYE, mobile phone bills, store cards… I’m ashamed to admit that I got in more financial pickles than I’d like to admit to.
Yep, money always left me feeling out of my depth, and so I went all ostrich-like and buried my head in the sand. I never felt like I had enough, so I just stopped thinking about it.
A very grown-up attitude, I think you’ll agree ;)
So when I became single at 27, finding myself slap bang in the middle of being responsible for budgets and finances and savings and credit (ARGHH!) was a massive surprise. Not only was I responsible for my own finances, but I needed to make sure I made and saved enough to support the two little people in my life as well. It was quite terrifying, come to think of it.
I had one choice at that point: survive or sink.
My good friend Laura recently asked me how I made that decision at that time, how I said to myself that I had to keep going, create success out of a difficult situation. I told her that it never felt like that. It never felt like a choice. There was only one way out of my financial divorce situation, and that was up: I had to make my money work for me.
Surviving was my first option, but thriving was the second. Thriving would be the ideal way out – I wanted to make a life for the three of us, create a living for myself that would mean my children would never want for anything.
And so I started at the bottom. It was rough, my credit record was appalling and there were lots of companies I owed money to. But I worked hard, sorted out payment plans, managed expectations, and slowly but surely within a couple of years I was home free. No debts.
Not only that, I even started a savings account. I bought my first car outright (as a freelancer with my history I’m now mildly terrified of credit so prefer to save for big purchases) and felt comfortable enough to take some time off work before this Christmas when juggling home and such a busy job got a little bit too much. Paying my tax wasn’t a problem this year and I’m in the black on every single bill.
It wasn’t easy: when I say I’ve spent the last three years working hard, I mean I’ve been working hard. Eighty hour weeks at some points, times when there was so much going on at work that I didn’t know what I was doing at home. It’s slowed down now, but I’m satisfied that all my hard work was to get us financially where we needed to be.
So it was really timely when Aviva got in touch recently and asked me to test out their new financial tool. Now, I was very interested to have a go because, although I’m a million times better with my wallet than ever, I’m still better at spending than I am saving. I still have my weaknesses – scented candles, organic food from Waitrose, dirty martinis – and I know that, with a little extra planning, I could do even better with my budget.
The tool is really clever. You answer some questions about your behaviours, not all necessarily related to finance, and then you’re told what your saving personality is, and where you excel or need work. It then points you in the direction of places that can help you learn more about your particular profile. You might be a Day Dreamer, Super Stretcher, Professor Chill or Enlightened One…
Aviva’s tool has told me I’m a Turbo Saver (yay!), but it’s highlighted one of my biggest cash downfalls: making my money work harder for me. I have an advanced current account, an ISA and a savings account but beyond that I’m clueless, and I don’t even know if I’m getting the best rates at my current bank. I’ve been with them 20 years and it’s always seemed too much of a hassle to switch… so I’m looking forward to learning more about where I keep my hard-earned dollar.
Secondary to getting to know my financial products, I also need to save hard this year. We’re embarking on an exciting adventure and will be moving house to a place that is very much ours this winter (local school catchments being what they are, there’s really no choice), and though I still have some savings I need more. So we’ll be calling on the Aviva Budget Planner to help with this and squirrel away that nest egg for the next move.
I’ll be reporting back shortly on how we get on – I’m actually a bit scared of seeing if I really do fritter money away using the a Budget Planner – but it’s all for the greater good. Watch this space!
Thank you to Aviva for working with MTT.